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Building Online Communities is about Purpose, Purpose, Purpose

November 21st, 2011 · No Comments

My thoughts on Social Media Success is about Purpose (not Technology) by Anthony Bradley and Mark McDonald

We’ve all stumbled across a blog or facebook page and have wondered, “Why would that company have a facebook page? I don’t want to be their friend!”

Looking at it from the Manager’s perspective, if it’s the hottest trend (remember when Twitter first arrived on the scene?), then we have to have it. And in the craze of figuring out how a new platform will work and if it’s going to adopted by the general public, managers often forget to ask themselves “What PURPOSE will this new platform serve for my company?”

Without asking what the purpose of adopting some social media vehicle is, then it is highly unlikely that any business value will be derived from it. The lack of purpose leads to “provide and pray”, where managers provide a social media tool and pray the community will form around it and begin to use it, as Bradley and McDonald explain in their Harvard Business Review article “Social Media Success is about Purpose (not Technology)“.

So how can managers find a purpose for the available technology? Bradley and McDonald recommend “purpose roadmapping — planning how to use purpose to engage and sustain productive communities.”

In other words, start by understanding your customers’ needs. Then map out how community collaboration and your business can grow together over time. Lastly, choose the appropriate technology to make this happen. This high-level road-mapping will inform all lower-level business decisions as well, such as what to post and why- Will it serve our purpose?

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